The fraud of Rhodesian Man

Some of the most often asked questions at any of our presentations are the questions about Cavemen. Were there cavemen (and cavewomen)? How long ago did they live? What were they like? Are they mentioned in the Bible?

First of all, what does the word caveman mean? It means a man (or woman) who lives in a cave; a man or woman -- not a pre-human, sub-human or ape becoming a human. For example, King David lived in the Cave of Adullam (I Samuel 22:1, II Samuel 23:13 and I Chronicles 11:15). Doesn't that make King David a caveman? In fact, there are 31 references in the Bible to people living in caves.

Further, I thought that it would be instructive to look at just one of the great frauds of the past which promoted the concept of human evolution from pre-human primates which lived in caves. As this example clearly shows, those who believe in human evolution do so because they want it to be true and will do anything to make it seem true even when it is obviously not. This kind of distortion and wizardry still accompanies the discovery of fossil bone fragments, whether human or ape, today.

The case in question occurred in the late 1920s. The organization involved was none other than the very prestigious British Museum of Natural History. This attempted fraud was carried out in a very similar way to the earlier Piltdown Man fraud in which the same museum was a party.

Our example concerns the discovery of the bones of Rhodesian Man. These bones were found in 1921, in an iron and zinc cave at Broken Hill, Northern Rhodesia (now Kabwe in the nation of Zambia) by a miner, Tom Zwiglaar. The find consisted of the bones of three or four family members; a man, a woman and one or two children. The bones were dug out by a mining company and not by an experienced scientist, thus much of the circumstances of their death and life-style are unknown. The pit where the bones were found mined further after the discovery and is now filled with water. Only the skull of the man survived and is now referred to as the Kabwe skull, or Kabwe cranium or Broken Hill 1. The remains are frequently classified as belonging to Homo rhodesiensis. The Rhodesian Man remains are dated to be between 125,000 and 300,000 years old on the evolutionary time scale.

The single extant skull shares many features with other fossil skulls that have been classified as Homo erectus (Man who walks upright), which is a contrived species of real human beings. This designation of Homo erectus is hotly debated among evolutionary believing anthropologists. The facial bones of Rhodesian Man are said to have similarities to Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) and modern humans (Homo sapiens). Although the eyebrow ridges are heavy and large, these bones do not show any ape-like features, such as a protruding muzzle. The cranial capacity falls within the normal range for human beings.

A report in New Scientist dated January 16, 1993, entitled On the Origin of Races stated, it was reported that evolutionary anthropologists are now proposing nothing less than the complete abolition of Homo erectus, on the grounds that the species is insufficiently distinct from Homo sapiens. The report proposed that all fossil remains of Homo erectus and Archaic Homo sapiens (including Neanderthals) should be reclassified into a single species, Homo sapiens sapiens, which is to be subdivided only into various races. With this recommendation in place, Rhodesian Man simply equals “Us.”

What is of special interest, however, is what became of the bones of Rhodesian Man once they reached the British Museum of Natural History. The first staff member to examine the bones was Sir Arthur Smith-Woodward, who had previously achieved worldwide acclaim as a co-discoverer of what has since became known as one of the most blatant scientific frauds of modern times, Piltdown Man (1912). The facial bones compelled Sir Arthur to confess their very human characteristics in his own paper written in 1921 for Nature. He still alleged certain ape-like qualities and no underling was going to challenge his authority while he remained in office. Sir Arthur retired in 1928, and events took a darker turn.

Before he retired, Sir Arthur placed W. P. Pycraft, one of the Museums ornithologists (a bird specialist) and Assistant-Keeper of the Museums Department of Zoology, in charge of the reconstruction of Rhodesian Mans bones.

To what purpose would a bird specialist be assigned to reconstruct human remains? What specialized knowledge would a bird specialist have concerning the finer points of human anatomy? There were many distinguished experts on human anatomy available at the Museum at that time.

Consider - Both Piltdown Man and Neanderthal Man had at that time been accepted as evolutionary predecessors of the human race. Today, we know that the first was a fraud and the latter completely human. Yet the decision was made by someone high up in the Museum to launch another ape-man on to the public at large. The uncertainty of the scheme, however, was not lost on its perpetrators, and so a bird specialist was called upon to put his name to the documents.

Pycraft wrote his paper in 1928, entitled Rhodesian Man and Associated Remains. Among the collaborators listed were Grafton Elliot Smith, a human anatomist who was heavily implicated in the Piltdown Man fraud; and A. T. Hopwood who would later be implicated in another fraud concerning human evolution. These men chose to give the Rhodesian Man bones the name Cyphanthropus rhodesiensis (the Stooping-Man of Rhodesia), but also known now as Homo erectus rhodesiensis and Homo sapiens rhodesiensis. Mans genus is Homo. How can man exist outside of his own genus, let alone his own species? Inquiring minds want to know!

Better yet, this “stooping man” was to be distinguished from all other stooping men (whose remains still await discovery) by the descriptive tag of “Rhodesian.” Stranger still was the way in which stooping man became stooping. The pelvis was quite fragmented and incomplete when found. Rather than have an expert in human anatomy reconstruct the hip, a bird specialist reconstructed it with an entirely false orientation. This then gave the poor “man” a rather ridiculous posture, that of having the knees bowed outwards, while the feet were turned inwards.

Later, Professor Le Gros Clark would remark upon the reconstruction proposed by Pycraft and his collaborators as the result of a misorientation that was not only grotesque, but, to the eye of the mammalian anatomist, impossible. Clark published his opinion in 1928, in the scientific journal Man.

Clark’s paper went on to say about Pycraft’s work that is was a: “Remarkably misinterpreted ... not convincing ... grotesque ... quite incorrect ... hardly justifiable ... Mr. Pycraft imagines ... curious errors ... impossible to believe ...” In short, a scathing criticism, quite in contrast to the normally very reserved and cautious approach of one scientist disagreeing with another scientist. It is noteworthy as well that Clark was not a creationist but an adamant Darwinian evolutionist. He did have the integrity to know a fraud when he saw it and labeled it as such.

One would think that Professor Le Gros Clark’s timely intervention would have prevented the world from seeing yet another bogus ancestor of the human race appear in the school textbooks. One may indeed pray for such scientific integrity in the rest of the evolutionary believing community!

Unfortunately, the fraud of Rhodesia Man still fills textbooks and Internet sites with a deception that has long ago been proven to be another fraud in a long line of supposed proof of human evolution.

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